Breaking down the NBA’s most and least fun teams

Breaking down the NBA’s most and least fun teams

As someone who covers the NBA for a living — and tries to watch every team at least once a week to better understand how they play — I can’t help but have favorite clubs to watch from a League Pass perspective. Some teams are more fun to watch than others.

With that thought in mind, it’s harder to find two more dissonant clubs than the Kings and Rockets, who, to me, have been the most entertaining teams in the NBA this season, respectively.

With these teams – who meet for the first time this season on Wednesday night – it would be easy enough to suggest that the disparity in entertainment comes down to wins and losses. (The Kings are 21–18 and in fifth place in the West, while the Rockets are in last place at 10–30.) But that’s not the case here.

If you talk to Pistons fans, for example, they’ll tell you they’re very excited about their new club, whether it’s Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren getting their feet wet as promising rookies, or point guard Killian Hayes who bottom shows remarkable signs of improvement. third year player. Detroit seems to be building toward something, even with Cade Cunningham out for the season.

Houston certainly has talent. But unlike the Pistons — and definitely unlike the Kings — there often seems to be little rhyme or reason to the team’s style of play, which leaves something to be desired. The Rockets, for example, are the youngest club in the NBA and are extremely athletic compared to many of their opponents. However, it is extremely rare to see them push the ball.

The club ranks in the bottom half of the league in terms of pace. And while it’s tempting to believe that this might be due to the team’s unimpressive defense, which is constantly left clearing the ball from the basket, that doesn’t appear to be the culprit. Even when the Rockets stop, they generally walk the ball up. Case in point: They rank last in batting average, as they run a defensive table, according to data site Inpredictable.

As a result of playing so often in halfcourt scenarios, it’s more of a hindrance to generate offense despite having some really talented passers on the roster, especially in the frontcourt. (Alperen Şengün is very talented in that regard, and Usman Garuba isn’t bad either.) Still, Houston has the fourth-lowest assist percentage in the NBA, a stat that was at least somewhat understandable when James Harden and Chris Paul ran. iso-heavy offense as part of Mike D’Antoni’s strategy a few years ago. But the meaning of any strategy here, with 20-year-old Jalen Green and 22-year-old Kevin Porter Jr. that drive the rear, it’s harder to do.

That’s not to say there are never bright spots in Houston’s watch. The Rockets showed heart a day after the death of Rockets coach Stephen Silas’ father, Paul, by staging an emotional, come-from-behind home win over the Bucks on Dec. 11. And they followed that up by knocking off Phoenix one game later. (Suns coach Monty Williams, who has suffered his share of losses, shared a meaningful hug with Silas as they shook hands at halfcourt.)

But overall, in a year where most teams have been incredibly fun to watch—even some of the ones we didn’t expect much—Houston has been … less fun to watch. In fact, the club has lost 12 of its last 13 games since that mid-December win over the Suns.

The Rockets turn it over more than any club, and even when they do manage to keep the ball, the team’s shooting profile looks upside down most of the time. Houston shoots relatively well, almost 40% as a team, on the corner three, but takes less than any other club. In contrast, the Rockets are near the top of the Association in terms of the number of three-pointers attempted, and they are one of the worst teams at making them.

Because of the lack of optimism, the times when you see young talent and potential shine in Houston feel less frequent, even though they are there on the surface. But on a team scale, in the words of seemingly frustrated winger Eric Gordon, “There’s no improvement.” And at a club that has already finished bottom two years in a row, that’s not very encouraging.

On the other side of the equation are the Kings, who have played an entertaining style of ball for years, but finally seem to be experiencing a breakthrough for the first time in 15 years. The club’s perimeter shooting has improved, courtesy of rookie Keegan Murray and veteran shooter Kevin Huerter – both shooting over 40% from the arc.

Huerter was an ideal trade target for Sacramento because of how he matches up with center Domantas Sabonis, who orchestrates countless dribbles to the guard from the elbow area. In fact, no team uses more dribbles than the Kings — or scores more per game off those looks. In almost direct contrast to the Rockets, Sacramento has found something that works and has used it over and over, daring opposing defenses to stop the two-man game.

Of course, starting point guard De’Aaron Fox is the other factor that defenses have trouble stopping, especially when he pushes the ball in transition. No club gets as much offense from transition as the Kings; she accounts for more than 20% of the Kings’ offense, according to Synergy. Even after giving up a bucket on D, Fox and the Kings finish their offensive possessions in an average of 14.5 seconds, the second-fastest rate in the league, according to Unpredictable.

To put it bluntly, neither team plays much defense, with both ranking in the bottom 10 in efficiency. But perhaps their biggest differences are ball movement and pace. The resurgent Kings generally play offense like they should be somewhere, while the more static Rockets often seem stuck in quicksand on that end of the floor.

With that in mind, it’s no wonder Houston’s improvement — if any — has been so hard to notice. And that might explain why the Rockets haven’t usually been fun to watch.

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